News & Scoops

2011 June 17

InStyle Gets Rubbed and Smelled

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InStyle July issue, with five Rub & Sniff spots InStyle July issue, with five Rub & Sniff spots
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(NEW YORK) The latest issue of InStyle gives a multisensory experience that harkens back to childhood and makes summer seem, well, even more summery, thanks to a slew of “rub and smell” spots scattered throughout. Forget your Kindle or iPad—from eau de popcorn to the fresh whiff of grass, print is where it's at for this deliciously (not digitally!) enhanced reading experience. The Daily rang up the glossy’s editor, Ariel Foxman, for the fragrant dish.

How did the idea come about?

Our July issue always includes a feature called “101 Reason to Smile This Summer,” whether that means dressing stylishly in the office, simply enjoying the weather or going full hog and throwing a party. We started working on the story six months ago, in the dark, cold winter months. The story is all about evoking the season, and we do that every year, but this time around, we really wanted it to look, taste, smell and feel like summer. I remembered that I had seen scented paper in a presentation many moons ago. We couldn’t make the pages tasty, but the magazine can definitely smell like summer!  We have a lot of energy invested in digital, mobile and social platforms, but you can’t smell your phone or sniff a website yet. There’s nothing like adding an extra sensory experience to a print publication.  We’re the only, and first, women’s magazine to do this.

What was the process like?
We investigated what was out there, and found a company that does rub and smell technology. They produce around 100 or so stock scents, and shortlisted the ones we really liked—and that were most evocative of summer. I sat down with the editor who produces the “101 Reasons” package, our creative director and our visual team to figure out the best placement for the scent spot throughout the issue. Then we kept it under wraps for months so it would be a nice surprise for our readers. We didn’t do a focus group—we worked on the idea with our editors, and definitely had to consider the literal possibility of getting it in the pages on time.

Looks like the concept's a hit in the Twittersphere--your readers are saying the issue is "BLOWING MY MIND!!!!" and "genius." Tell us more about the feedback!
We did a full distribution with the rub and smell concept, so our subscribers got the issue within the last few days and they’ve been tweeting a lot about how excited they are by the idea.  It’s fun to see! It’s a real treat for our readers. We’ve also received some emails already, and the issue hits newsstands today.

Which quintet of delish scents made the cut?
Popcorn, watermelon, grass, suntan lotion, and iced coffee—which is good for a pick-me-up when you’re in the office.

What’s your favorite of the five?
Grass. It smells the most authentic.

How often can we expect a little scent with our InStyle reading experience?
We don’t have plans to do another issue with the rub and smell element. It’s certainly an investment in the reader experience. We work to delight and surprise every month, so it wouldn’t be surprising if we did this again!

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